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>> this is "the chris matthews show" [captioning made possible by nbc universal] >> chris: clear and present danger. suddenly democrats have something to feemplet historic unemployment and big losses on tuesday. how scared are the key senators from arkansas, louisiana, and nebraska? will the nightmare of personal political extinction kill the dream of universal health care? which way do we go? what's the estimate move for democrats? cool the jets or fight harder for change?
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to flee or not to flee? that's the question. and finally, elephants on the rampage. could the right be doing to republicans what the left did to democrats back in the 19 60's? could this fight for ideological purity scare off the middle. welcome to the show. savannah guthrie is white house correspondent for nbc news. john heilemann covers politics for "new york magazine." kathleen parker is a "washington post" columnist and andrew sullivan is senior editor of "the atlantic." tuesday's elections and sky high unemployment numbers have focused the minds of sentist democrats. president obama is pushing for health care reform at a time of great draket skittishness. this week the republican leadership was playing on hose worries. >> this bill is the greatest threat to freedom that i have seen in the 19 years i've been here in washington. chris: some of the moderate
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democrats certainly follow elections and they remember august town meetings. here's what louisiana democrat mary landrieu heard in her town hall. >> in this bill, h.r.-3200 and others similar tomato, it takes away our freedom. this is not about health care. this is about growing -- [applause] >> there is an appropriate time for appropriate government rules and regulations. audience: boo! chris: and no doubt democrat klara mccaskill, a sentist from move hasn't forgotten about the same kind of defiance at her hometown in sthrulls. -- st. louis. >> you don't trust snow chris: what's worrying the
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moderates right now is the loss of the independent voter. independents were the backbone of obama's sweep last year. in the recent nbc news poll, the overall support for obama was 52% but among independents, down to 41%. that's critical for obama. in these elections held in new jersey and virginia this week, 60% of the independent voters went for the republican candidates. this is key to the democrats, isn't it? >> it's a figure like that that hasoderate democrats in congress completely spooked because everyone knows -- if you know nothing about politics, you know as the independents go that is how elections are won. the independents is one of the most frightening things for democrats. the other thing is new jersey. that's a strait -- state with the president is popular, it's a blue state and he campaigned hard for jon corzine.
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chris: everybody follows election returns, everyone the support. but democrats who are up for election next year are very sensitive. throw in the unemployment rate. what does this do to their thinking? >> it throws the health ca at least into thark relief. are you better off passing a bill that is going to have very little political upside in the short term, because there's going to be no tangible effect on anybody's life until last 2013 and the republicans have portrayed it as a big government intrusion. on the other side you get a big fat huge loss. i think the democrats are weighing is it better to pass a controversial bill or is the specter of failing after having spent an entire year on this -- is that more scary? chris: the question where the leadership is, do you push for
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something democratic -- dramatic ig called change and or -- or cool your jets. >> i think they're too far down the road to pull back at this point. chris: if i'm thinking about what's going to happen for this country, just like the independent voter, these elections. sort of the independent minded democrat. the mary landrieu from louisiana, the klara mchaskell. lance lincoln who's up for re-election. >> 83 members, democrats in the house are from districts that went from george w. bush in 2004 or mccain in 2008 so their clearly concerned. if you look at the exit polls in virginia, the gubernatorial race just finished, the vast majority of people expressed their concerns as economic. health care was way, way down the list. essentially the democrats are pushing something right now that's really not a top priority.
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chris: at a time of great skittishness and worry. andrew, i think you were thrilled by the romance of the election. the idea of a black guy, a political guy. did the public buy his democratic agenda? a big program perhaps to health care. is this is problem? the independent voters saying wait a minute, i like obama but not this thing. >> i think they are a little nervous about this thing. my sense is most of this is an anti-incumbent move in a very depressed economy, which is not a big surprise. i don't think the health care reform is some big government scheme. it's a modest attempt. what the democrats have to do after health insurance is get to the fiscal question, tackle the fiscal crisis. this is what the ifpblets really worry about and they're right to. what obama has to do, the
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democrats have to do is say we're serious about this, we're going to have to cut this, raise taxing -- taxes on this, do you want this or not? even though the republicans say they favor fiscal responsibility, they have no proposals to cut spending or raise taxes. chris: that raises the question of next year's elections. david axle rod, the chief image guy. is this serious, making the election next year all about obama? >> they still think he's their best advocate. democrats embrace the obama agenda. they think the economy will be better off. however, we have over 10% unemployment now and that's not expected to change probably for a year. >> what happened in these elections is the democratic base didn't show up. so if you don't give them a reason to show up, you'll have even worse ahead. >> andrew is making a
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contradictory point. if the president decides to push forward on fiscal restraint and deficit reduction, that's not going to excite the democratic base or help the economy very much. they think if in addition, additional stimulus in the short term is required. >> people can see in the long future that we're not headed for the cliff. the health insurance reform is what does it for the base. chris: we asked the mat thuste meter, will -- matthews meter will tuesday's vote scare democrats? 11 of you said the mod rats will stick with obama. only one said they'll get spooked by the election results, by the independents going the other way and by the high employment, and that persons kathleen parker. >> can i change my vote? chris: you voted against the
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herd. why? >> i think from is still a chance -- this is not a done deem. i think there's still a chance there will be no health care reform by the end of the year. if there is some, i think modetes could push for some adjustments that wouldn't be what president obama wants. there could be, for example, a commission of some sort to overseehings that the president wouldn't have absolute control over. >> they'll call it health care reform no matter. chris: it includes some kind of public option possibility. is there going to be a bill of that kind? >> i think so but the idea that this is going to be put off to january, the skittishness. i still think there's going to be a bill but i think there's a chance it all falls apart. chris: is the white house still pushing for this year? >> they're leaning hard on congress for this year but if you ask folks in the senate
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they say this could slip. chris: if he gets a health care bill by of some kind will he introduce some job creating move? >> they're going to focus like a laser on jobs. >> it's a problem. they're going to totally focus on jobs but it's hard to do something that satisfies both the center and the base while push for a big jobs program. >> with the unemployment rate at 10.2%. chris: and rising. >> he's going to have to do something along those lines. chris: something for the center? >> withdraw much more than we imagine from afghanistan. maybe the response will be a minimalist strategy in afghanistan. chris: before we break, the worried independents out there and all there disafterfection with government has some remembering the ross perot days in 198 2. >> it's clear that there is a
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big chunk of particularly the white electorate that is moving in a perotesque way. it is becoming distrustful of -- losing confidence in all major institutions. >> aren't you sick of being treated like an unprogrammed robot? every four years they send you all kind of messages to tell you how to vote and then go back to business as usual. chris: naturally he was perfect for "saturday night live." >> see, the deficit is like some crazy aunt living down in the basement. everyone knows she's there but no one wants to talk about her. i say talk -- take her upstairs, slap the [beep] out of her and hose her down. some of my programs, 50-cent a gallon gas tax a so on. step one, a national curfew
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nationwide lights out, 8:45 p.m. you may say, ross, what am i going to do after 8:45? i suggest you sleep and you'll be glad you did when you hear that national wake-up siren at 4:45 a.m. [laughter] now, don't worry. you won't sleep through it. it's going to be loud. chris: when we come back, republicans are back on track. it's the coalition of traditional republicans, energized conservatives and people very worried about the economy and big government is. that group taking its cues from the wing nuts? be robbery. -- right back.
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chris: welcome back.
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tuesday election results gave republicans a big boost. a year from now they hope their loose coalition will unite. what's that coalition? it's regular republicans, also energized conservatives, people fill fasthically opposed to a creeping big government, third, people upset about the economy and the loss of jobs. thourt -- fourth, the wing nuts. talk show host mark eleven spoke to all of them at that rally at the capital this week. >> they want to control you, your children, your parents, your doctor, your nurse. the bottom line is they want to play god and decide who lives and who dies. chris: wow, that angry voice seems to be grabbing a lot of people on the right and center politically right now. >> i'm trying to understand it. i think it's in some ways a response to the bush years as well. conservatives had to suffer for eight years as bush governed essentially as, in their words,
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a socialist. he dramatically increased dealt. the medicare prescription drug act, much more expensive than anything -- it's pent-up anger against bush and the fact that conservativism was destroyed under the last administration. unfortunately all the principal reasons to oppose bush have been lost in this cultural and social hatred of obama. the best part of the right, can we please get back to fiscal spending. chris: you're part of the right. >> yes, i'm encouraged in a way that that is alive and well. chris: we saw this combustion in upstate new york this past tuesday, where the conservative party candidate knocked out the regular republican candidate and ended up losing to a democrat.
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is that a message? >> i don't know if it is in that case. it was such an unusual situation. the unifying message of the republican party is back to taxes, back to small government and there are enough people now shifting to that message because, no matter what we say here, there's a great concern that government is growing. yes, bush did some of it but it's now in overwhelming proportions. chris: that's not the message you see in the placards, the crazy faces, the people yelling. the anger. it's personal, ethnic, it's going after the president. it's not just a concern about fiscal conservatives. >> no, it's not. it's raw populism. both an economic and social, cultural kind of popularism. i think it's an ugly face for the republican party. it does certainly create a lot of energy and that if salvely
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harnessed could work to the party's advantage? chris: doesn't that help drive up the republican vote? >> yes, it could help in the elections. in the long-term driving moderates out of the party is not the way to build a steeble majority down the line. chris: do they think it's good for thing -- them that the wing nuts, the angie people, are they helping drive the republican opposition or dermining it? >> i think the white house is thlled anytime it looks like the frills, the wing nuts, as you call them, are the face of the republican strategy. chris: is that what they're pushing? >> there was a time when they were happy to underscore anytime it seemed like it was a rush limbaugh. chris: a year from now as we look to next november when the whole house is up and a third of a -- the senate is up and they could lose both. will the anger level of the
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right wing politics be still out there? >> i think the anger will grow, in particular because of this unemployment problem. chris: john? >> the anger level will be very high. i think the white house would love a nationalized election, barack obama versus glenn beck. >> i agree the anger is going to continue and the white house has strategically created this impression. >> i eff no idea. this year doesn't look like last year. we have two wars, a depression. it is a very populous moment but that can hurt anybody. i wouldn't predict anything at this point. chris: can we have another panelist in here to to make a prediction? just kidding. we have scoops and predictions coming up. be right back.
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chris: welcome back. tell me something i don't know. >> there may be some progress in the coming weeks of finding a u.s. location for guantanamo detainees but probably not going to meet the deadline in january. >> i always like to bring you news from my hometown. in new york, governor david patterson, with ratings down in the 20's, has launched his re-election bid. even though no democrats one -- want him. he has ads on the air and hired bill and hillary clinton's old manager. chris: congratulations to the yankees. >> i'm not a yankees. >> john gear, pitical science professor at vanderbilt. he's doing some interesting research. it shows that all those negative political ads we hate were actually the fault of the media. the people don't see the ads so
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much as they read and see the media reports on those ads. chris: i don't believe it. >> you just said the phillies had a great campaign. chris: sorry. >> what i see from this last election in, maine they now want to license marijuana shops. we've reached the tipping point in the marijuana debate in this country in which i think it's going to be legal in californ, all of it in a couple years' time and spreading fast across the rest of the country. chris: it's 20 years since the berlin wall fell, and i was there at the time. my thought on what we have in common with those east germans 20 years ago.
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chris: 20 years ago i had the reporters' experience of a lifetime. the berlin wall was falling and i was there. what is freedom i began asking people as they stood waiting in that cold drizzly novber night waiting for the brande nburg gate to open. some wanted economic freedom, wanted to keep socialism but make it truly democratic.
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it was like a town meeting forming right around he and then a young man in an army surplus jacket came up and said this is freedom. standing in a public place talking openly about such things. then a nurse chimed in, four weeks ago we couldn't do it. we do believe in democracy. let us have a chance. what struck me was that it was the true beavers who brought down the system. they told me of the humiliation of living in a country where the very money itself had become a joke. how could a country of hard-working germans be so poor? it's not the cynics who are most offended by the wall street bailouts and huge profits up there. no, it's the true blivers in free enterprise, in capitalism who feel the most betrayed and they're the voters who began to show their anger last week.
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we should recall the berlin wall, celebrate the freedom that brought it down but the warning, it's the true believer who most of all resent the betrail. that's the show and thanks for watching.
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tv
The Chris Matthews Show
NBC November 8, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EST

News/Business. (2009) New. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Obama 7, Berlin 3, Louisiana 3, Afghanistan 2, Matthews 2, Washington 2, New York 2, Mary Landrieu 2, Kathleen Parker 2, Virginia 2, Yankees 2, Jon Corzine 1, Ross 1, Glenn Beck 1, Hasoderate 1, Ross Perot 1, Clinton 1, Limbaugh 1, David Patterson 1, John 1
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